05 February 2013, Tel Aviv, State of Israel – Speaking before an audience composed of Israeli businessmen and tour operators, Ambassador Generoso D.G. Calonge opened the year 2013 with an intensified campaign to promote the Philippines' tourism industry through the Embassy's participation in the 19th International Mediterranean Tourism Market (IMTM) held at the Israel Trade Fairs and Convention Center in Tel Aviv on 5 February 2013. On the same occasion, the Philippines-Israel Tourism Chamber was launched.
The Embassy's participation to the IMTM is both rare and historic opportunity as this is the first time that the Philippine participated in this prestigious trade fair and the launching of the Chamber serves as recognition of the growing importance of the Israeli tourism market for the Philippines. Budgetary constraints have been the main factor why the Philippines was not able to join the yearly trade fair exhibition in Israel.
IMTM 2013 is held under the auspices of Israel Ministry of Tourism. Other sponsors are the Israel Hotel Association, the Association for Tourism Tel Aviv-Jaffa, as well as EL AL Israel Airlines, Israel Tourist & Travel Agents Association and Israel Incoming Tour Operators Association. It features exhibitors representing just about every aspect of Israel's tourism market - incoming tourism, domestic tourism and outgoing tourism, alongside a significant number of exhibitors from overseas. The fair is highlighted by professional workshops, seminars and press conferences. IMTM is also attended by groups of agents from abroad organized by the Israel Ministry of Tourism.
Ambassador Generoso D.G. Calonge and Third Secretary and Vice Consul Ferdinand P. Flores engaged Israeli businessmen, particularly Mr. YarivFischer, CEO of Flyeast Ltd., Mr. Shalom Maidan, Mr. Eli Sharvit, Tourismo Filipino and Janddy Tours-Manila, and supported for the creation of the Chamber and participation in the 2013 IMTM. Through this back-to-back accomplishment, Philippine tourism promotion, consistent with the Embassy's mandate, is further intensified, taking advantage of the booming tourism industry in the Philippines and Israel.
In his remarks, Ambassador Calonge said that Israel is the biggest tourist market of the Philippines in Eastern Mediterranean Europe. "From January to November 2012, there were 5,255 Israeli residents who visited the Philippines, 16.29% higher than the 2011 figure of 4,519," the Ambassador said. "In 2012, the Philippines also achieved a new milestone for our tourism as arrivals to the country reached almost 4.3 million, posting a 9% increase compared to the previous year's arrivals of 3.9 million," the Ambassador added. The Ambassador also noted that the country passed the 4 millionth arrival in 2012, signifying that Philippine tourism is growing significantly.
"The Philippines is different from other tourism destinations around the world which offer the same leisure and recreation to tourists. Our country offers you the genuine warmth of Philippine hospitality, the ready smiles of the Filipinos and our relaxed sense of comfort. One may say that the Philippines may be half across the globe from the Israeli viewpoint but I invite all of you to visit our country to see and experience what we can offer. After all, we have 7,107 islands with countless possibilities, you can explore nature and seek your own adventure or just retreat to your share of the sunshine," the Ambassador concluded.
The program of activities of the event was also highlighted by the screening of a short tourism audio visual presentation entitled "It's More Fun in the Philippines" which provided a glimpse of what the Philippines and its people could offer to visitors, most especially the Israeli tourist. It was followed by a country presentation by the Geographical Office represented by Mr. Amir Gur.
Towards the conclusion of the event, an Arnis demonstration was presented to the audience by the Lighting Strike Arnis Israel headed by Master Jon Escudero, a long-time resident of Tel Aviv. —END—